Britons in Helicopter Crash after flying to South Pole

British woman Jennifer Murray, who in 1997 had already become the first woman to fly around the world in a helicopter, and did a second circumnavigation in 2000, this time without an autopilot, is now trying to be the first person to fly over both the South and North Poles.

Murray only obtained her pilot's license nine years ago at the age of 54. Her co-pilot Cohin Bodhill is equally skilled, becoming the first person to circumnavigate the world solo in a microlight in 2000.

The "Polar First Challenge 2003" left New York 22 October 2003 in a Bell 407 helicopter and traveled down the east coast of the Americas to Ushuaia.

After becoming the first single engine helicopter to cross the Drake Passage, the pair headed for the South Pole, refueling at Thiel Mountains.

On the 15 December, near 810S, Jennifer dropped in to greet her husband, Simon Murray, who was on his way to the Pole with Pen Hadow in a bid to become the oldest man to walk unsupported the 1368 km to the South Pole.

After being forced to sit out a 'white out' for two hours, Murray and Bodhill continued, camping 30 miles short of the Pole to ensure that they would arrive there on 17 December to exactly mark the 100th anniversary of Wilbur and Orville Wright's first manned powered flight. It was while they were trying to land and camp here that they had to overcome wearying problems when the skids kept sinking deeply into the snow.

The next day they put down at the South Pole, then flew back to Patriot Hills, tired after only 1.8 hours sleep over the previous two days.

It appears that after they left Patriot Hills on their northern leg back to South America, and ultimately the North Pole, the helicopter went out of control in high winds and very low temperatures, crashing down onto the ice.

Murray broke her arm while Codhill suffered chest injuries.

They took shelter in the helicopter before venturing out to put up an emergency tent.

The alarm was raised when the helicopter's satellite distress beacon was picked up by RAF Kinloss in Scotland.

Murray and Codhill were stranded for several hours before an Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) Twin Otter picked them and took them back to the Patriot Hills base.

There they were tended by a doctor before being flown to hospital in Punta Arenas, Chile.

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